By Greg Kocher, Lexington Herald-Leader and Amanda Hancock, Lexington Herald-Leader
Credit Karla Ward/Lexington Herald-Leader
Lexington police said Thursday they would investigate the disappearance of a controversial billboard message that denounced homosexuality and abortion. The message on a billboard appeared last week and cited Bible passages beneath the statements "Homosexuality is an abomination" and "Abortion is murder." The vinyl sign, which listed a phone number for Bluegrass Church of Christ in Scott County, was missing Thursday, leaving a blank billboard. Police contacted the church and took a theft report, spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.
University of Kentucky administrator Frank Butler will be project manager for the Rupp Arena, Arts and Entertainment District, leading the effort into phase two, which will develop a detailed design and a financing plan. In a statement Thursday announcing the appointment, UK President Eli Capilouto said it was important for the university and city to work together to make the entertainment district a reality.
A call for volunteers to examine homelessness issues in Lexington has produced a great deal of interest. 114 people have offered to service on the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness. Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Gray, says ‘It’s encouraging to have so many interested in serving on the Commission. ‘ She adds, “ It will also mean we will be adjusting the appointment schedule. This is a complex issue. We need experienced citizens around the problem solving table, working to find the best solutions for everyone.”
For the 18th consecutive year, Eastern Kentucky University is playing host this weekend to Special Olympics Kentucky State Summer Games. More than 12 hundred special Olympic athletes are expected for the event which runs through Sunday. Festivities get underway this morning with the annual lightning of the Flame of Hope at the state of the Kentucky Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg.
It appears this Memorial Day weekend will be a hot and summerlike period, just in time for the start of the public swimming season. Four Lexington area aquatic centers will open Friday, a day earlier than originally planned. The city decided to close Constitution and Berry Hill pools. Woodland pool co-manager Nick Barjuca expects some pool migration this summer. “I think every other pool is gonna get a little bit busier because those two pools closed,” said Barjuca.
School nurse Michelle Marra slowly discusses with Takirah Sleet, 7, everything left on her blue lunch tray to calculate just how much she has eaten. The process is necessary to determine how much insulin Takirah will need to get safely through the rest of the day.The effort is part health lesson as Marra helps Takirah learn about carbs and calculating the insulin correctly, part check-up to see how the first grader is feeling that day, and part office visit as Takirah gets her injection.
If you're driving along the farmland of southern Fayette County, you'll find an atypical sight: construction equipment. Bulldozers and the like have become commonplace along Tates Creek Road in the southern part of Lexington since last month, when Marathon Petroleum began to replace miles of oil pipeline. The pipeline carries crude oil from Owensboro to Marathon's refinery at Catlettsburg in Boyd County.
Driving instructors with the Fayette County Attorney’s office hope to have access to a second practice track by June. County Attorney Larry Roberts says a newly paved area is planned next to a driving pad they currently share with Lexington’s police and sanitation departments. Roberts says the program emphasizes defensive driving.
The fate of a homeless shelter could be decided by the Lexington Board of Adjustments during a revocation hearing Friday at city hall. Local inspectors claim the Community Inn has not met conditions as set out when it was allowed to open. The facility, which is situated on Winchester Road, is managed by the Catholic Church. Council member Chris Ford says coping with homelessness is a complicated issue.
The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center has received $6.25 million to fund research of myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood and bone marrow disorder that can be caused by radiation or chemotherapy treatments. The Edward P. Evans Foundation is giving a $5 million grant. The remaining $1.25 million is a gift from an anonymous donor.
It wasn’t clear what caused a color mix-up in Lexington’s Triangle Park fountain Wednesday, but the bright red water generated plenty of discussion throughout the day. The water was supposed to be dyed pink to promote the free showing of the film Pretty in Pink at the park at dusk Friday, part of Downtown Lexington Corp.’s new Fountain Films on Friday series. It was also a nod to the film’s sponsor, Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
After six years of budget cuts, the city agency that provides social services for Lexington may see an increase. A seven percent increase is proposed in the current budget plan. Still, Social Services Commissioner Beth Mills says demand for services have also gone up. In short, she says fewer people could actually receive assistance.
The budget strain caused by the unfunded liability of Lexington’s police and fire pension program remains a problem without an easy fix. Outgoing Urban County Council member Doug Martin offered a pension presentation complete with many figures at Tuesday’s work session. ‘I think this is the most serious problem facing city government right now,” said Martin.
An extensive revitalization project in downtown Lexington will mean improvements to a well known community center. Plans continue for the extension of Newtown Pike through the Davis Bottoms community. The development of the roadway is still a few years away. But some change has already come to the area. City engineer Andrew Grunwald says improvements will be made to the Carver Center.
Two Fayette County sheriff's deputies were arrested Thursday and a former deputy was cited following an investigation into missing guns. Sgt. Merle McDaniel, 55, Maj. Chris Tudor, 37, and former Sgt. Bill Beers, 47, were charged after an internal investigation at the Fayette County sheriff's office. The investigation revealed that guns confiscated by McDaniel and Beers had not been booked into the office's property vault. It was later discovered that two of the weapons had been sold at pawn shops, Sheriff Kathy Witt said at a news conference Thursday.
A new law to help crack down on copper and other metal thefts is progressing in Lexington. The Lexington-Herald Leader reports the Urban County Council gave tentative approval of a revised ‘scrap metal’ ordinance Thursday night. The original proposal called for a ‘sellers license.’ Greg Dixon with Baker Iron and Metal says the modified ordinance doesn’t include such that provision.
Residents and business owners who live and work on Versailles Road have a chance to sound off Thursday night about the state of the road, which many say is badly in need of upgrades. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has allotted $25-thousand dollars to look for quick, practical solutions traffic issues on Versailles Road. Those who live along the corridor will have an opportunity to offer their input on possible road improvements Thursday night. Friends of Versailles Road chair Paula Singer says the challenges are many.
Memorial services are scheduled throughout the country this week to honor police officers who have died in the line of duty. Here in Lexington, that solemn public ceremony takes place this evening in Phoenix Park. Police from the Lexington Bluegrass Lodge #4 will gather to salute their comrades-in-arms in a solemn ceremony. Last year 166 police officers made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, including one from Kentucky.
There will be no cuts in city personnel who staff Lexington’s ambulances. Urban County Council member Doug Martin proposed a reduction in the number of emergency care responders in each ambulance from three to two. Then, Martin says the city could increase the number of ambulances.
The city of Lexington appears ready to hire a consultant to further examine the conversion of four one way downtown streets to two way. Planning Department Director, Chris King says the study could answer a number of lingering questions. “But there’s never been any real data on how would that be designed what would that cost…that study will give us that information that will let the council make decisions on whether to proceed how to proceed when to proceed and what it would cost to proceed,” said King.
United Airlines pilots stood at the front entrance of Blue Grass Airport Monday, but not to greet travelers or give directions. The pilots were distributing leaflets criticizing United management for giving employees the short shrift and compromising safety by outsourcing jobs. United Airlines pilots are taking their complaints and concerns out of the board room and straight to the passengers.
Historic Calumet Farm has sold for $36 million to $40 million to a new trust, the Calumet Investment Group, which will lease it to Thoroughbred horseman Brad Kelley, whose Optimizer is running in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. The farm, one of the most storied in Thoroughbred racing and breeding history with eight Kentucky Derby winners and two Triple Crown winners, is located on Lexington's Versailles Road between New Circle Road and Keeneland.
The Urban County Council continued debating the merits of the city’s subsidizing of public golf courses Tuesday. City support for the sport has become a hot button issue this budget cycle. The council took another swing at golf funding Tuesday, with council member Jay McChord, a vocal proponent of examining the issue, again pushing for numbers. McChord brought up the topic the previous week, questioning why the city is experiencing brown outs at fire stations while spending $1.2 million dollars to keep its five golf courses open. General Services Commissioner Sally Hamilton gave a report this week showing progress toward lowering that number.
One of the organizers of last weekend’s Bluegrass Food Blast, which featured several mobile food vendors taking over a downtown parking lot, says the event demonstrated what would happen if the city relaxed restrictions on the food carts. Amanda Tibbetts, with the Bluegrass Food Truck Association, told members of a task force working on an ordinance for so-called itinerant merchants in Lexington, that support for the mobile businesses is growing.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Lexington fire department's employment practices, city officials confirmed Monday. "The city was made aware of the investigation in early April. Federal officials have our full cooperation and we welcome their investigation," city spokeswoman Susan Straub said in a written statement. Diversity in the ranks of Lexington's firefighters has been a topic of public concern for several years. Only five black men and four white women have been among the 119 graduates of the fire recruit academy over the previous six years.
Vendors eager to bring the mobile food truck trend to Lexington are taking over one downtown parking lot this weekend to show off their menus and gather support for their businesses. But a number of regulatory roadblocks need to be cleared before the trucks become a common sight downtown. It’s nearing lunch hour and business is starting to pick up at the Bluegrass Food Blast as passersby and employees at nearby businesses wander toward the trucks. Carol Ludwick, who made the drive from her house, is just finishing up her chicken wings.
The future face of urban parks could give a slightly different meaning to the phrase ‘green space. More of that “space” could be privately financed. Parks in cities like Lexington are publicly supported and maintained. But another p-word, private, could be used to describe parks of the future. Such a space now exists in Louisville, with its ‘Parklands of Floyd’s Fork’ project. The aim is to develop and link four parks with land mostly bought with private funds.
Underneath the heart of downtown Lexington flows the Town Branch Creek. It’s been buried for more than 100 years, but now community leaders are talking about bringing the water back to the surface as part of the creation of a Rupp Arena, Arts, and Entertainment District. If you look at a map of downtown Lexington, you’ll notice that the streets aren’t situated along the cardinal directions of north, east, south, and west. Traffic on Main Street, for example, runs northwest.
The fourth annual Disability Expo and Resource Fair filled Heritage Hall downtown Thursday. This year’s event featured a new campaign meant to keep citizens – both disabled and non-disabled – aware of where they should park around town. The Celebration of disAbility, that’s with a lower case "d" and an upper case "a," is intended to empower handicapped citizens by offering information and demonstrations on everything from transportation to how to vote.
Chef Jeremy Ashby of Azur Restaurant led a cooking demonstration Wednesday for students at the Lexington Family Care Center, showing them how to prepare broccoli mac-n-cheese, carrots, almond-crusted chicken tenders, and cornbread. Ashby's class was part of series of talks in the Plant to Plate program, an educational project at the center that's taken the classroom to the garden and kitchen. For the past several weeks students have learned to grow their own vegetables and how to shop for healthy food on a budget.